Brooklands Museum, near Weybridge in Surrey, is a place I had always promised myself a visit, with a favourable weather outlook we decided to have our first long run of the year and our first Austin 3-litre club gathering in 2015 was the Brooklands Austin Morris Day on 8th March.
I have been fortunate to have been asked to join you on some Iceni meetings so many of you may have already seen our blue Austin 3-litre. The event was an Austin Morris day and we were entitled to discounted admission to the museum, at £10 this was amazing value.
A nice early start saw us arrive at this amazing venue with a huge variety and numbers of cars already assembled. Martin Keeping brought his low mileage damask red car along. After some thought Martin and myself realised 20 years have passed since we last actually met!
Thankfully phones and emails etc have bridged this gap and we have always been in quite regular touch. Barry Dancer soon joined us with his blackberry car to make our total cars up to three. You know what they say, three’s a crowd!
We were amazed at the quality and range of what is at the Museum, along with Car, Motorcycle and Pushbike displays there were also many of the cars from the 20’s and 30’s that used to race at Brooklands.
The London Bus Museum, Barnes Wallis’s Stratospheric Chamber, Concorde, and the numerous aircraft that we were allowed to wander around on were quite fascinating. We were also free to walk around on what is left of the old race-track, this is very impressive and quite atmospheric.
Having stood beside the awesome 530 bhp 24-litre Napier Railton, and then to walk over the very track where it was once lapping at over 143mph was quite something.
A few facts about Brooklands…
- Brooklands Race Track was the brainchild of Hugh F Locke King, it was the first purpose – built banked motor race circuit in the world and was opened in June 1907. The opening event was attended by almost all of Britain’s car manufacturers. An informal inauguration of the track by a procession of 43 cars was undertaken; one of these was driven by a Mr. Charles Rolls.
- Along the centre of the track ran a dotted black line, known as the Fifty Foot Line. By driving over this line, a driver could theoretically take the banked corners without having to use the steering wheel.
- Eleven days after the circuit opened, it played host to the world’s first 24 hour motor event. Over 300 railway lamps were used as markers to light the track during the night, and flares were used to mark the upper boundary of the track, incidentally the upper boundary had no barriers!
- The world record for the first person to cover 100 miles in 1 hour was set by Percy Lambert at Brooklands, on 15 February 1913. Unfortunately he was killed trying to break his own record when a tyre failed on his car.
- Brooklands was also one of Britain’s first airfields. In 1908 the first taxiing and towed flight trials of a British full-size powered aircraft took place. On 29 October 1909 the first official powered flight took place. This event attracted 20,000 people.
- Motor racing closed during World War One and the site was requisitioned for military use and was used during this time as a Pilots Training site.
- Racing resumed in 1920 and even hosted cycle racing in the 1930’s. With the outbreak of World War Two racing ceased and the site was turned over to the production of military aircraft. Some of the track was damaged during this time by enemy bombing and a new access road was built through it for the aircraft factory. Its days as a racing circuit were over.
Just in the display area alone I put an estimate on about 100 Minors being on show, everything from concours cars to daily runners with battle scars to prove it. There were also some modified Minors, the most extreme being a Rover 3.9 V8 powered car which had to have eight inches added on the front to get it all in, weirdly it didn’t really show!
There were cars on show I have never seen before, the mint Marina Mumford convertible pictured above, an Allegro Equipe in the same sort of condition, numerous Metro’s, 1100/1300’s, in fact I think almost everything that has ever come out of Longbridge, Cowley and Abingdon was there to be viewed.
The 3-litre was Cowley built by the way but was designed at Longbridge. The museum itself as you can see in the photos has several Airline liveried Minor vans on display.
The day passed very quickly indeed and we didn’t get to see everything the Museum has to offer by a long way. By around 4 o’clock many people were heading for home so we decided to do the same. A 235 mile round trip for us and as ever the old girl performed faultlessly.
£50 worth of fuel used was not too bad either. This is a definite date for the calendar next year.
You can read Neil’s original article, which includes photographs, below…
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